The Stream, August 27, 2021: Lawmakers Ask Biden Administration To Declare Drought Disaster in U.S. West


  • In the American West, lawmakers ask the Biden administration for additional resources to fight drought and wildfires, while scientists launch a new observatory to collect water data.
  • Floods in western Venezuela destroy more than one thousand homes.
  • A club for native students in northern California plays a vital role in creating curriculum meant to empower young people to protect the state’s waterways.

An executive is found guilty of the murder of a Honduran environmental activist.

“We need to recognize that this is incredibly common — people are lost all over the planet, all the time because they spoke out.” – Scott Badenoch, a visiting attorney at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington. Inside Climate News reports that more than five years after Honduran environmental activist Berta Isabel Cáceres was murdered, Desa executive Roberto David Castillo was found guilty of her assassination. The verdict marks a rare victory for the global environmental justice movement, which was made possible only because of the Cáceres’ notoriety and the persistence of her family, Badenoch said.

  • Why it matters: Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists, according to data published by the advocacy organization Global Witness. In the last year, at least a dozen environmental activists were killed in Honduras, including Carlos Cerros, amemebr of the Indigenous Lenca people of Central America.


In Case You Missed It:  

Droughts Push More People to Migrate Than Floods – World Bank report sheds light on the nuanced connections between “water shocks” and human migration. 

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Drought in the American West

Your need-to-know drought coverage for the week.

Western Lawmakers Ask Biden To Declare Drought Emergency

Western lawmakers are pleading with the Biden administration to declare a drought disaster, NBC News reports. Representatives Joe Neguse of Colorado and Jared Huffman of California asked the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a letter to release additional resources to aid Western communities experiencing more and more water cuts as the resource becomes scarcer.

New Observatory Will Collect Water Data in U.S. West

A new climate observatory near the headwaters of the Colorado River will help scientists better predict rain and snowfall and determine water availability in the U.S. West, according to the Independent. Scientists will use the observatory to gather data on precipitation, wind, clouds, tiny particles, humidity, and soil moisture, among other things. They hope to not only gain a better understanding of the region’s hydrology but learn more about how things like wildfires, forest management and drought play a part in water availability.


1,200 HOMES

Flooding in western Venezuela has destroyed more than 1,200 homes, Al Jazeera reports. In the state of Merida, intense rains caused mudslides and rivers to overflow, killing at least 20 people.


A club of roughly 50 native students from Hoopa Valley High School, along with a coalition of other entities, was instrumental in creating a new curriculum that empowers young people to fight for the future of waterways in Northern California, Civil Eats reports. The curriculum largely focuses on protecting California’s rivers, where salmon species currenly face extinction from climate change and water diversions.  Lessons in the curriculum combine science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM), all while utilizing traditional ecological knowledge, which the U.N. have acknowledged as essential in the fight against climate change.

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